The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XVI. Early National Literature, Part II; Later National Literature, Part I.

VI. The Short Story

§ 21. Charles Egbert Craddock

1884 was the climactic year in the history of the short story inasmuch as it produced The Lady or the Tiger? and In the Tennessee Mountains, each one of them a literary sensation that advertised the form tremendously. No book since Harte’s The Luck of Roaring Camp had been launched with such impetus as the latter of these. For six years the name of Charles Egbert Craddock had been appealing more and more to the national imagination because of a series in the Atlantic of strongly impressionistic studies of life in the Tennessee mountains. Now suddenly it came to light that the author was a woman, Miss Mary N. Murfree. The sensation in the Atlantic office spread everywhere and gave tremendous vogue not only to the book but to the type of short story that it represented. No one had gone quite so far before: the dialect was pressed to an extreme that made it almost unintelligible; grotesque localisms in manners and point of view were made central; and all was displayed before a curtain of mountains splashed with broad colours. The year was notable too because it produced Brander Matthews’s The Philosophy of the Short-story, a magazine article later expanded into a volume, the first scientific handling of the art of the form since Poe’s review of Hawthorne.